First of all, I would like to thank everyone who sent me their prayers, both here and in private. I probably won't manage to thank each of you personally, but you have no idea how much it has meant to me to have so many people who have never even seen me face to face offer their total support. It has been heart warming and sincere.
This will surely be one of my most poorly written posts. But I don't care. My thoughts are cluttered and confused, and I think I just need to give in to a good old fashioned rant (something I try not to do in this blog usually...).
My father-in-law's name was Santino. This is also my youngest son's middle name. My youngest was his grandfather's favorite grandchild, and he never made a secret of that. He loved all of his grandchildren fiercely, but Dana just has that special something that let him see his own reflection. Dana is bull-headed and unwavering, as was my father-in-law. He has an infinite talent for driving you crazy with his ironclad, don't mess with me character, as did my father-in-law. Dana is also incredibly loveable and sincere, as was Santino. When Dana was born in my house in Italy, Santino was the first person to come into my bedroom and offer me roses cut from his own garden. He was a man of maddeningly few words, and when he spoke, he thundered. Santino grew up during World War Two, and was one of twelve brothers. He remembered well what it felt like to be hungry, really hungry, and never left a morsel on his own plate, or anyone else's. He was dynamic and very physical, and had the same large, burly hands that my husband has, and that Dana will surely have one day. Santino passed away on Dana's birthday.
He died at home in his own bed. I am so deeply grateful for that, since he harbored an intense fear of a suffering death. He never had to live dependent on others, or infirm, or as half a man, which was a gift for a spirit like his.
My husband had the unexpected gift of spending the last 4 days before he left Italy once again living in his parent's home, since our home was prepared for the tenant who will soon be moving there. He passed those days by his father's side, repairing the hail netting over the garden in the mountains and cleaning out the garage in his childhood home to make space for our car. My husband had not had such concentrated quality time with his father for years, since usually his bratty wife and clinging children take up all of his time and energy. He remembers the last sight he had of his father waving goodbye from his bedroom window, telling him to stand tall.
That was only a week ago.
And now on to me. I am ashamed deeply of one thing, and I will confess it here. I am glad that my husband and children are not in Italy now. MacGyver has decided to go back to Italy on August 1st for 10 days to sort through his father's life with his mother and sisters, and at the bidding of his entire family he did not try to make it back for the funeral. For those of you who know what an Italian Catholic funeral is like, you know why I am selfishly glad not to be there. The body of the deceased is kept in an open casket in the home, which is open for visitors 24 hours a day until the funeral ceremony. People come and stand around this body that was once the person they knew. The widow and family are forced to live with this body for 2-3 days. The coffin is then nailed shut right there in that same room, and then taken to the church for the mass, and finally to the cemetery. I know many people say this type of mourning allows for more closure, more confirmation of death. But I am here to tell you that that's pure bullshit. It's horrible, macabre and long-suffering. I am doing my best not to imagine my sweet mother-in-law forced to stay by that body. I am doing my best not to imagine the reason they decided to close the casket today, instead of tomorrow, since it's so hot in Italy right now.
My dear husband will remember his papa and my children will remember their nonno booming and thundering. Working in the garden, walking in the mountains, bottling homegrown wine and carving wooden canes.
I will remember his most tender moment in all the time I knew him, bringing roses to my bed to welcome his favorite grandson into the world.